The first democratic governor in Wyoming’s history made, and wore a pair of human skin shoes.
George Francis Warden, a.k.a. George Parrot, a.k.a. “Big Nose George,” was a horse thief and a train robber. In 1878, after a botched hold-up, he and his gang killed a couple of lawmen and fled to Montana. “If he’d kept his big mouth shut he wouldn’t of got caught,” said Ilene Hanson, an assistant at the museum. “But he got to bragging.”
George was hauled back to Rawlins, sentenced to hang for his crimes, and then lynched by an impatient mob. He reportedly clung to the telegraph pole to save his neck, but gravity dragged him down. He choked to death, and in his struggles the noose rubbed off his ears.
Desecration of remains
Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Eugene Osborne took possession of Parrott’s body after his death, to study the outlaw’s brain for clues to his criminality.
The top of Parrott’s skull was crudely sawn off, and the cap was presented to 16-year-old Lillian Heath, then a medical assistant to Maghee. Heath became the first female doctor in Wyoming and is said to have used the cap as an ash tray, a pen holder and a doorstop.
Dr. Osborne had personal reasons as well. “From what I understand, he was on a train and Big Nose George delayed the train and he missed a party. And so he did not like Big Nose George.”
Dr. Osborne’s payback was special. He peeled the skin off of George’s chest and thighs and had it made into a doctor’s bag, a coin purse, and a pair of shoes. Or, rather, half a pair of shoes. The rest of the leather — the darker portion — was cut from the shoes that George was wearing when he choked to death.
The vengeful doctor knew how to make an impression (You don’t mess with a guy wearing human skin shoes). He went on to become a bank chairman, the largest sheep owner in the territory, and the first Democratic governor of the state of Wyoming. “He wore those shoes to his inauguration. He was mighty proud of them. If you look at the soles, they are quite well worn.”